Pregame primer: Holtby a surprise starter

Pregame primer: Holtby a surprise starter
February 6, 2014, 6:45 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

News and notes as the Capitals [25-23-9, 59 points] take on the Winnipeg Jets [28-25-5, 61 points] tonight at Verizon  Center [7 p.m., CSN]:

Holtby surprise starter: Braden Holtby was first on the ice for warmups, indicating he’ll make his first start Jan. 30 in place of Michal Neuvirth, who was coughing badly after the club’s morning skate.

Holtby is 15-13-2 this season with a 3.00 GAA and .909 save percentage.

Special visit: United States Secretary of State John Kerry will participate in a ceremonial puck drop with Olympians from both teams prior to the game. Kerry also addressed the Capitals in the locker room prior to the team’s pregame warmup.

Must win: With three wins in their last 13 games and two remaining before the Olympic break, the Capitals strongly emphasized the need for four points in their next two games.

“We have to win and go on the break with a smile on our face,” Alex Ovechkin said.

Nicklas Backstrom agreed, saying, “These last two games might be our most important two games of the season.”